Back to Trip Reports 


Title:  South Africa 2003

Trip Type:   ‘Tourist’ safari booked through a non-specialist safari or photographic company (Kuoni, again!).  The vehicle was shared with other tourists who were not focused on photography.   The trip visited just one park and so there was little time wasted travelling, getting from camp to camp involve travel in the park at all times and so was effectively part of the game drives.

Outline Itinerary:  Kruger NP (3 different camps) , 5 nights.  I had hoped to see Cape Town too but there were no flights available due to an international cricket tournament.

When:  February / March

Equipment:  Nikon F4s, Nikon F100, Nikkors 50/1.8, 70-180 micro, 300/4 AFS, 400/3.5 IFED, TC-14B, TC-14E, Manfrotto 055 / 168, Nikon A2 filters, Fuji Provia F 100

Photographic Highs and Lows: 


Elephant, Kruger NP

The trip was photographically very quiet due to the time of year. It was the tail end of the southern summer (hot and wet) and had rained heavily the week before I had arrived. As a consequence the bush was green and dense which was nice, but the animals had dispersed free from the need to be close to the more permanent watering holes. I think a more tailored and less touristy trip may have been more productive (see South Africa 2008) but I had to make the most of what was available. It really did not live up to my hopes as the trip gallery shows. It was really difficult to find more than a handful on images for this, and many of those probably would not have made it into one of the other galleries.

The park has a number of species not found in places like Kenya, or are scarce, and so offers a great opportunity to add a little more variety to my portfolio. It is as different to Kenya as say Samburu is to the Mara, the main players (lion, elephant, leopard, etc.) are the same but the supporting cast (mainly herbivores) include some interesting differences. I like this variety and enjoy seeing and photographing the different grazers at least as much as the big cats.

Natal Francolin, Kruger NP camp

Other Comments: 

This trip was a real lesson in the importance of planning, not just the location and expected subject matter but also the best times to visit etc.  Booking the trip was a bit of a ‘spur of the moment’ thing, quite unlike me, and the result was a photographically unproductive safari.  I still enjoyed the trip, as I always do, and chats with the guide gave me valuable first hand insight into when would be a good time to return.  That return, five years later, was probably the most productive trip that I have done to date.

I have to say that Kruger NP is not one of my favorite reserves, for the most part it does not feel as wild as most (any!) other places I have been to in Africa.  The majority of the roads are just that, tarmac and smooth roads.  There are some dirt tracks but even these are very well maintained and easily negotiated in a standard family car.  You certainly do not need 4WD and there are lots of people in their normal road cars around the park, there are even buses, coaches and picnic areas!  At times it has the feel of a European safari park attraction rather than the wilds of Africa.  However it would be a good destination for a first introduction to Africa or if you wanted to drive yourself and, despite the over civilized feel, can be very productive and rewarding as I was to discover a few years later.  If you like to be comfortable and ‘safe’, this is the place for you.



Back to Trip Reports  and General Ramblings